Winter Activities in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is a beautiful view year-round. However, the winter snow brings unique scenery that is breathtaking and special to see. With snow-capped hoodoos and red dessert rock contrasting the pure white snow, the winter view of Bryce Canyon is like no other. If you plan on staying during the winter months, there is plenty to keep you busy. However, winter storms can cause dangerous trails and roads, so make sure to check for weather conditions and trail/road closures before visiting. Here are some of our favorite activities to do in the winter at Bryce Canyon.
Sightseeing at Bryce Canyon is beautiful year-round, but something about the snow-capped desert landscape is so special in the winter. This activity is good for everyone, as you can drive to the four main amphitheater overlooks year-round. These overlooks are named Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points. The roads and parking lots leading to these points are plowed immediately after winter storms. So there should be access to these points at all times of the year.
Snowshoeing is open all throughout Bryce Canyon. You can bring your own, or join a ranger-guided outing where they provide snowshoes and poles, free of charge. The Fairyland Road and Paria View Road are left unplowed in the winter to provide trails for snowshoeing. Snowshoes allow you to walk on top of the snow, where you would normally sink in if walking without. This activity is fun for the whole family, and while still somewhat strenuous, you can take your time and enjoy the beautiful views of the park.
Winter Hiking and Backpacking
Many of the hikes and trails in the park get icy and dangerous in the winter. For this reason, hiking and backpacking are recommended for experienced and well-prepared adventurers only. It is important to have all the correct gear, and permits are required for most trails during the wintertime. This is not a family-friendly activity, but is a rewarding experience for the expert adventurers!
Ranger Guided Full Moon Snowshoe Hikes
Hiking is not completely out of the picture during your visit to Bryce Canyon in the winter. The park offers ranger-guided full moon snowshoe hikes during full moons in the winter months. These hikes are for people ages 7 and up and are around 1-2 miles long. The ranger will bring you down into the canyon where the shadows and moonlight bring the hoodoos to life. These hikes are on a lottery-based system, so if you are interested, make sure to register!
Stargazing and Winter Astronomy
Because of its remote location, Bryce Canyon is far from light pollution and has the perfect dark sky for stargazing. During the nights, you can see thousands of stars, and occasionally a couple of planets. When weather conditions and staffing permit, the park offers Winter Astronomy Programs to view the beautiful sky and learn about the stars. Check in the Visitor Center for the schedule of these programs.
Viewing the sunrise is always a popular activity in Bryce Canyon National Park. However, during the winter, the sun rises a lot later, making it easier to get up and view while on vacation. Sunrise Point is one of the best places to watch the sun come over the canyon. In the winter you’ll see the sunlight glisten on the snow. Bryce Point is also a very popular place to watch the sunrise. There are really no bad views in the park, so no matter where you go, you’ll get a breathtaking experience.
Cross Country Skiing
Another family-friendly activity in the winter is cross country skiing. Bring your own skis or rent some in Bryce Canyon City on your way to the park. It is illegal to ski off the rim into the canyon, but the park maintains many trails above the rim for you to enjoy. You can ski the Rim Trail along the edge of the Main Amphitheater, the Bristlecone Loop Trail, Paria Ski Loop, Paria View Road, and Fairyland Point Road.
2019 Christmas Bird Count
Last but not least, on December 21st, the park is hosting the world’s longest-running citizen bird census. Put on by the National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, this annual event is held across the Americas and is its 120th year. Free to join, beginners will be pair with experienced birders and join a morning bird hunt, enjoy morning pastries and a hot lunch, and receive a souvenir t-shirt once complete. Join this long-running event and help assist scientists with the monumental task of assessing the health of bird populations.
Winter is a fun time in Bryce Canyon and can be a great unique experience for the whole family. Winter conditions can be cold and harsh, so always be prepared before visiting the park. It’s important to dress appropriately and stay hydrated. Read our other blogs to learn more about things to do on your vacation. Contact us if you have any questions or want to learn more about our unique lodging experience.